Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Devolution Journey of powers and finance to Scotland and the North East takes a big step today

Today in the House of Commons, MPs will debate the consequences of the Scottish devolution settlement agreed during the Scottish Referendum.
Along with those promises are the subsequent demands that England be treated equally. Within hours of the No vote being announced, David Cameron appeared in Downing Street to insist that English MPs alone should vote on English-only legislation. Now that the principle has been so firmly enunciated, there is no going back on it, just as there can be no retreat from what has been promised to Scotland. Where Labour are on this is still hard to see but I have met no one who does not agree it is mad to have devolution to the Scots but their MPs continue to vote on matters affecting Hexham and Halifax.
Indeed, the doctrine of English votes for English laws could well be reinforced in Parliament before Christmas, though in an ideal world Scots MPs would simply excuse themselves from voting on matters that did not concern them without being told to. All that is needed is a simple change in Parliamentary Standing Order 39 to make it clear that when designated English-only legislation is before the House then Scottish MPs would not be allowed to vote on it.
However, the House has acted swiftly and changed the government timetable so that the Scottish debate can get started and there is an airing of opinions as to the way ahead from lunchtime today.  The debate is from 1-7pm.